The annual Michigan Spring Game is upon us and it is time to let the overreactions fly. There is no shame in this because at the heart of every, “THE RIGHT GUARD’S INSIDE HAND IS TOO HIGH, OHIO STATE WILL KILL US IN THE A-GAP” is a passionate fan who is excited to have football back in their life. Remember last season? Here are the 2017 Spring Game’s hottest takes ranked:
5) Devin Bush is an actual missile!
4) Quinn Nordin has 60 yard field goal range.
3) Josh Metellus is our best defensive back.
2) Kareem Walker will become the starter before Michigan State.
1) Brandon Peters is the next Peyton Manning!
Every year is the same, but this seasonal sneak preview will also reveal subtle truths that will be validated in the fall. Looking back, Speight’s confidence was gone, Winovich would become a star, Devin Bush may actually be a missile, and the offensive line would remain vulnerable on the right side.
This weekend, I want to see three things: Shea Patterson, offensive tackles in pass protection, and the improvement in pass coverage from the safeties.
The New Hope: Shea Patterson
The early hype out of practice is that Patterson is the best quarterback since Chad Henne, and maybe even Drew Henson. Excuse me as I run through this wall.
Drawing these types of comparisons after a few glimpses is silly, but the fact these discussions are even taking place admittedly has me optimistic. After last season saw Michigan finish behind Air Force, Georgia Tech, and Navy, in total passing touchdowns with 9, any glimmer of hope from the position is welcomed.
This weekend, temper expectations, but look for Patterson to display his full arsenal including the deep ball and play making outside of the pocket. The impeccable Trevor Woods evaluated Patterson in December and I expect to see similar strengths and weaknesses on Saturday.
Now resume bowing towards to Ann Arbor and praying for his immediate eligibility.
Offensive Tackle Rotations
Simply, who is it going to be? Mason Cole is gone to the NFL and Grant Newsome remains in recovery from his 2016 leg injury. So the 2018 leading candidates are: Jon Runyan, Chuck Filiaga, Juwann Bushell-Beatty, James Hudson, Andrew Steuber, and Nolan Ulizio.
Each player has several questions surrounding their game and I expect new offensive line coach Ed Warriner to try out several combinations within the game. Pass protection is the biggest need so strong hands and quick feet will be the biggest indicators of who will see the field in the fall.
Saturday will be an audition by fire facing Rashan Gary, Chase Winovich, Donovan Jeter, Carlo Kemp, and Luiji Vilain on the edge. Who can handle the heat?
Josh Metellus was one of the breakout stars of last year’s Spring Game, but unfortunately, that was the best game he would play all season. He and Tyree Kinnell both struggled in pass coverage and teams began to frequently exploit this weakness. Kinnell remains great in run support and he will start at strong safety, but Metellus, however, has his work cut out for him to stay on the field in 2018.
J’Marick Woods, Brad Hawkins, Jaylen Kelly-Powell, and Utah transfer Casey Hughes, will all challenge Metellus and Saturday could springboard any of them up the depth chart. 2017 starting cornerback David Long could even see time at safety because of the rapid development of sophomore Ambry Thomas at corner.
Each player is dynamic in their own way and with Michigan’s plethora of tight ends, expect them to be tested early and often in the seams of the defense. This was the only hole in an otherwise dominant defense in 2017; filling this void could make this the best defense in Michigan history.
Let the hot takes fly and enjoy the game!
What are you watching the closest in the Spring Game?
This poll is closed
Shea Patterson quarterback play
Offensive line improvements
Safeties in pass coverage
Other (comment below)